BOISE, Idaho — A federal appellate court dismissed on Friday the appeal of a man who was sentenced to death for kidnapping, torturing and killing a young northern Idaho boy after killing several members of the child’s family.
Joseph Edward Duncan III faces the death penalty for the 2005 murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene, along with several life sentences for the murder of three of Dylan’s family members and the kidnapping of his then-8-year-old sister.
Duncan fled Idaho with the children, holding them for several weeks in the Montana wilderness before killing Dylan Groene. He was eventually captured back in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with the girl, who was the only survivor of the ordeal.
Duncan fired his public defenders, represented himself during his 2008 sentencing hearing and then waived his right to appeal. But Duncan later changed his mind, and his defense attorneys claimed he wasn’t mentally competent enough to waive his rights.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that claim, saying the lower court rightly determined that Duncan was competent and that it’s too late now for him to change his mind.
The three-judge appellate court panel found that U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Idaho used the correct legal standard when he determined that Duncan didn’t have a mental disease or defect that prevented him from understanding his legal options or making a rational decision.
Duncan is on death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
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